TM · Torah Portion · Vayetzei · Vayetzei (And he went out).

Vayetzei, the Metaverse, Manna, Bananas, and Wrestling

The Metaverse is a new coming technology. Facebook Inc will invest $50 million to partner with organizations to responsibly build the so-called metaverse. In this digital world, people can use different devices to move and communicate in a virtual environment. The money used to buy property in this metaverse world of the new Facebook is called mana, not manna. Mana is defined as a pervasive supernatural or magical power. Soon CEOs, Managers, News reporters, and ministers will float into your homes. No buildings will be needed for business, conferences, or events as the metaverse will handle almost all your needs from their locations. Mana is magical like Disney World, but mana and Manna are two different things. Manna means bread and to a Hebrew audience, according to Abarim Publications, the name Bethlehem would have meant “House of Bread and House Of War.”

Magical power and divination appear in this week’s Torah Portion, but so does the Bread of Life and being doubly fruitful.

Shortly after my last blog entry, we left our hotel and landed in a house across from the beach. Coconuts are hanging from trees, bananas ripening with fruit, and a fig tree in my yard. My mind can’t seem to soak it all in. The weather most days is sunshine and cool salty breezes. I feel like I am living a dream in this month of Kislev. Have you been dreaming? Jacob and Laban both dream this week in Vayetzei (And he went out).

My husband and I went to the beach the other evening and placed our chairs in the sand. The views and sounds from the ocean are breathtakingly wonderous. It reminds me of how magnificent the Creator of Life is. The details of every grain of sand adorned with shells and crabs walking sideways to greet me, eyeballs perched atop their heads. I walk down to the shore, and foamy waves spill over my feet and legs. Birds with peculiar beaks run speedily back and forth. One bird seems to follow me around, a tiny sandpiper. His legs resemble toothpicks, and the prints his feet leave in the sand make feather indentions. He scurries back and forth, his beak grabbing anything he can find to eat, and then suddenly, a chunk of a mollusk comes washing up, and he excitedly snags his treasure. What do snowbirds, mana, manna, and this week’s Torah portion have in common? A lot.

The snowbirds spend their days running back and forth, looking for food. When a person is hungry, they search for food. They run with snowbird legs back and forth rapidly to find food. They scurry for berries, mushrooms, and try to catch fish or an animal to cure their hunger pains. Starvation leads to dreaming about food.

Yeshua said, “Timeless truth I speak to you: It was not Moses who gave you bread from Heaven, but my Father gave you The True Bread from Heaven. “For The Bread of God is he who has descended from Heaven and gives life to the world” (John 6:32).

Yeshua said He was The Bread of Life and that whoever comes to Him will never hunger, and whoever trusts in Him will never thirst.” When was the last time you felt hunger pains? “The soul that is full loathes honey, but to a hungry soul, any bitter thing is sweet” (Proverbs 27:7).

The children of Israel did not run back and forth on the beach all day looking for food. Their shoes did not wear out. They had miraculous manna that rained down from the heavens. They were told to gather twice as much bread for each one on the sixth day but on the seventh day, the Sabbath, there would be no bread. In our story, in the 6th year, Jacob is getting ready to gather double. And the Father has given him a son named Joseph to conform it. Joseph means increaser, or doubly fruitful!

The sabbatical year began on Sept. 7, 2021. According to many, we are in the 7th year cycle of time, called Shmita. Just as the Torah calls for us to work six days and rest on the seventh, it commands the land rest in the seventh. After 49 years, seven cycles of seven, the 50th is the Jubilee, but the Jubilee has not been marked for centuries. The Torah portion this week is Vayetzei (And he went out). Jacob serves 14 years (two 7s) for his wives. He is ready to hit the road, settle in his own land, raise his children, and prosper, but something happens after Joseph’s birth and remember, later, Joseph will have to deal with 7’s– fruitful years and years of famine.

“Now, after Rachel had given birth to Joseph, Jacob said to Laban, “Send me on my way so I can return to my homeland. Give me my wives and children for whom I have served you, that I may go on my way. You know how hard I have worked for you.” But Laban replied, “If I have found favor in your eyes, please stay. I have learned by divination that the LORD has blessed me because of you.” And he added, “Name your wages, and I will pay them.” (Genesis 30:25-28).

Jacob was ready to return to Beer Sheba. He was ninety-one years old and still a servant to Laban, but Laban knows he has been blessed due to Jacob, so he says, “What can I give you to stay on? This is when we see Jacob taking the speckled, spotted, dark colored goats and lambs. Can you see the eyes of Laban twinkling with delight? Laban’s name means “white,” and Laban will get the white sheep. Jacob stayed on for an additional six years, but in the 7th year, he goes free.

Jacob now has learned to face men with Intestinal fortitude. He has learned not to run and flee or bring trickery, and soon Jacob will get a new name that matches his new identity. After fleeing in the night and being chased down by Laban, Jacob squares Laban in the eye and says,

“I have been with you for twenty years now. Your sheep and goats have not miscarried, nor have I eaten the rams of your flock. I did not bring you anything torn by wild beasts; I bore the loss myself. And you demanded payment from me for what was stolen by day or night. As it was, the heat consumed me by day and the frost by night, and sleep fled from my eyes. Thus for twenty years, I have served in your household—fourteen years for your two daughters and six years for your flocks—and you have changed my wages ten times! If the God of my father, the God of Abraham and the Fear of Isaac, had not been with me, surely by now you would have sent me away empty-handed. But God has seen my affliction and the toil of my hands, and last night He rendered judgment” (Genesis 31:38-42).

All 20 years of pent-up emotions, mistreatment, deceit, and lack of honor are now rolling off Jacob’s tongue. Slip-on Jacob’s shoes for a moment. His father-in-law makes him work for 7 years and then deceives him on his wedding night. Jacob ends up with two wives he worked 14 years for. The women rival, wrestle and demand love and children. He has worked his fingers to the bone and gained little. The man who caused Laban to prosper with blessings is now accused of thievery and curses. Laban’s sons declare, “Jacob has taken away all that belonged to our father and built all this wealth at our father’s expense.” And Jacob saw from the countenance of Laban that his attitude toward him had changed.”

Photo by Waldemar Brandt

All of these 20 years of turmoil will lead to wrestling. He is rolling in dust and dirt, weeping, crying out, and telling the Father about all his trickery, his pain, sorrow, burdens, and the loss of his family back home. Have you ever felt like Jacob? A black sheep. When I divorced my first husband I bought a CD, Jim Croce’s greatest hits, but there was one song on the album I needed to hear. “I got a Name.” I played that song over and over in my car and cried. For 14 years, I had traded my maiden name, but the Father was reminding me that I had a name, and He would give me a new name and a new identity.

It’s time for the hip to pop. Time to walk in humility and get a new name and identity. Jacob, it’s time look in the mirror, to face your father-in-law, brother, wife, and anyone else you need to face and start a new journey. I believe Jacob wrestles with Jacob. He, like me, has to ask himself a question: What is your true name? Rachel wrestles with Leah and names a son Naphtali. Laban wrestles with idols. What are you wrestling with?

Jeff Benner describes the meaning of the word Israel:

This name has been translated several different ways, including “he wrestles with God,” “Prince of God,” “he struggles with God,” and several others. The name “Israel” is actually a complete sentence in one word—Israel can literally be translated as “he turns the head of God.” The way I like to understand this is that when Israel (either Jacob or his descendants) speaks to God, God, the father of Israel, stops what he is doing and turns to his son and says, “What do you want my son.”

 

TM · Torah Portion · Vayera

The Art of Seeing as We Wait (Vayera)

Last week’s Torah Portion was Lekh Lekha meaning “Go” or “Go find yourself.” Abram and Sari set out, leaving everything familiar, including their families. My husband and I found ourselves in the same position at the exact time.

Following the Torah portions (first 5 books) can be pretty comforting and eye-opening.

While sitting outside our hotel last week, I saw a sight that caught my attention. Two men in their late 30’s dressed in black slacks and white dress shirts came out the automatic front doors of the hotel with walking sticks for the blind. They were tapping and trying to make their way to a white car parked under the entry. Suddenly a more prominent burly man, their father, came to direct them with words. “Two steps to your left,” he said to one, and “two steps forward” to the other, etc. They both then easily grasped the opposite doors of the vehicle and lifted the door handles, but the doors did not open. There was a pause as the mother came out of the hotel and began conversing with their father. Then the father said, “Hold on and let me unlock those doors for you.” He pulled out his car key and pressed the unlock button, and both sons got in the back seat—what a beautiful picture for all of us. Like Abraham, we hold our staff, and we do not know where we are going or what our future holds. And as I sit in my hotel room going on 12 days now waiting for the Holy One to push the button and unlock the doors of the place, He has for me. I need His Voice and His direction. But mostly, it is the pause we all struggle with. The waiting. The holding on to the door. The darkness that needs to be directed by the Light.

 I began to reminisce over a book my realtor gave me as a parting gift, “Eyes to See” by Joyce Cordell. Interestingly, in the partially fictional tale of Levi, a tax collector who meets the Messiah, the blind man at the temple gate has keen eyesight and can tell when Levi is downcast by his voice and the way he shuffles his feet. Sometimes we can see with our ears.

How did my husband and I get here? One night we sat outside looking at the stars around our fire pit and questioned selling our home. We talked about Abraham and the stars from his tent door. Certain things had transpired concerning moving further south. I even received a gift from a dear friend that, when opened, revealed bags of sand, sand pails, and sunflower seeds, along with multiple beach-themed items. The following day after hubby and I had prayed round the firepit, we awoke to a thunderous noise coming from our backyard. It was a ReMax air balloon, and it was floating above our property. We found a fantastic realtor and sold our home, getting the total asking price. Praise the Holy One. We then swiftly left everything familiar, including our families. This caused many emotions and, at times, buckets of tears, but we still feel this is the journey He has us on. 

Back to Abram and his barren wife:

Later in our Torah Portion, around 13 years later, Abba tells Abram that his descendants will be as numerous as the stars. Abram becomes Abraham as the Holy One puts His breath in Abram’s name and informs him that this gospel, this good news, will be taken to the nations. It’s the same message given to the disciples by Yeshua. It’s the same message given from the prophets of old. 

For this is what the LORD of Hosts says:

“Once more, in a little while,

I will shake the heavens and the earth,

the sea and the dry land.

I will shake all the nations,

and they will come with all their treasures,

and I will fill this house with glory,

says the LORD of Hosts.

The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine,

declares the LORD of Hosts.

The latter glory of this house

will be greater than the former,

says the LORD of Hosts.

And in this place I will provide peace,

declares the LORD of Hosts.”

Haggai 2:6-9.

Worried about a one world government? Forgetttaboutit! A King is coming and He does not fear, nor is he a liar. He will SHAKE ALL THE NATIONS.

Last  weeks Torah portion hit me deeply in a place I hadn’t thought about in decades. Lekha–

“The Zohar brings us back to the lekha, offering an alternative translation: ‘Travel in order to transform yourself, create yourself anew.’ At its simplest, lekh lekha translates: ‘Travel—to yourself.’ Not to the present, resident self—but to the self of aspiration, the perhaps unimagined self. At one level, it is Abraham’s difference from others that God invokes and provokes; but mostly, it is his difference from himself. God mobilizes an aversion in Abraham to the conformities of his world, which, at this initial stage, is his own conformity. An uncanny process is under way; drawn beyond himself, he is to transfigure that self. As a result of that process, Abraham will evolve a different way of seeing.” Avivah Gottlieb Zornberg, The Murmuring Deep: Reflections on the Biblical Unconscious, p. 139. (Click Here)

 

Sometimes we lose ourselves. We can’t seem to find what we are looking for. Years ago, I divorced my first husband. I was a very young bride when I got married. Around 14 years later, I left like Abraham, and the first thing I did was try and find myself. I purchased watercolor paint and paper, notepads, and journals to write poetry in. I bought CDs and even played classical music while painting. Somewhere along the way, I had lost my identity trying to survive a rather harrowing journey. Along the way, some people who meant well tried to tell me what to do, what career to choose, where to move, what church to attend, and how to walk, but I had to find my own way. Sometimes I was stumbling along in darkness with no voice to direct me. But I am thankful for the prayers of many and the mercy of the Father. 

Along with those along the way who told me what they thought I should do, other people told me who I was. That was life changing! Let me explain. I already knew I was a writer, but at a young age in 5th grade elementary school, I was given an assignment to write a poem. Later, I was sent to the office and my mother had been phoned to the school. I was being accused of plagiarizing a poem by Emily Dickenson. I didn’t know what that meant and I didn’t know Emily yet. The teacher said “I am looking and trying to find the poem, but I haven’t yet, but I know you didn’t write this!” I felt dirty. I didn’t understand why the beautiful feeling I had when writing the poem was met with something horrible. No one believed it was my words from my heart. 

I stopped writing. I did not write creatively again until my late 20’s. What the teacher did not know was that I come from a long line of poets and writers. The gift runs in my family and Oh, how this 54 year old woman wishes she could read that poem that was taken from me that day to see what I had penned. 

As I said earlier, “Other people told me who I was.”

My first English professor told me I had a gift to write and encouraged me to enter a contest. I was scared. How would my pen be met now? Would they believe I wrote it?  My professor told me who I was and I ended up winning the poetry prize. Others told me I had worth when I felt shame. Some, along the way told me I could do things I never thought I could. May we be those people–those who speak life and look for the good and gifts in others.

May we forget our disabilities like the blind beggar and listen to the shuffle of weary travelers and the sound of grief lying underneath at times anger and bitterness, sitting at the Oaks of Mamre.

This week’s Torah portion is Vayera, “And he appeared.” The Holy One appears to Abraham by the Oaks of Mamre. “Then the LORD appeared to Abraham by the Oaks of Mamre in the heat of the day, while he was sitting at the entrance of his tent. And Abraham looked up and saw three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he ran from the entrance of his tent to meet them and bowed low to the ground” (Genesis 18:1-2, BSB).

Mamre is an interesting place, and Abarim Publications breaks it down for us. Mamre means to see and understand.

From Seeing

Adversity

From Being Well Fed

1) The noun ממר (memer) meaning bitterness. . .The verb מרר (marar) means to be strong or bitter and can be used to describe tastes and smells, and hard or difficult situations.

Nouns מרור (maror) and מרורה (merora) refer to any bitter thing, the former specifically to a certain bitter herb, and the latter to gall or poison.

And speaking of such, the nouns מר (mor) and מור (mor) mean myrrh, a bitter and fragrant spice that was originally used to mark the tabernacle, but which came to be used to proclaim, olfactory, the consummation of marriage. Hence, despite its links to words that mostly describe hardship, myrrh oil was known as the “oil of joy.” 

The verb מור (mor) means to change.

The verb מרא (mara’) means to be fat or well-fed (and thus of a high social rank).  Abarim Publications.

While Abraham sits in his tent he sees. He is 99 years young and in pain from circumcision. 

“Then the LORD appeared to Abraham by the Oaks of Mamre in the heat of the day, while he was sitting at the entrance of his tent. And Abraham looked up and saw three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he ran from the entrance of his tent to meet them and bowed low to the ground. (Humbleness). (Genesis 18:1-2).

And this is when our story takes a turn, and the promise is given to Sarah. It is the same promise given to the Shunamite woman who cared for the prophet Elisha, and it is the same promise given to Hannah and many others. It’s the promise of life. Seeds. Stars. Dust. Sand. Oh, it is a promise that comes in the heat of the day. It comes after waiting and waiting and waiting. It is the promise that comes while we are bitter.

The whole chapter, Genesis 18, is filled with words like saw, seen, sight, and listening to hear. Look closely at the following passage:

And they said to him, “Where is Sarah your wife?” And he said, “See, in the tent.”

And He said, “I shall certainly return to you according to the time of life, and see, Sarah your wife is to have a son!” And Sarah was listening in the tent door which was behind him. Now Aḇraham and Sarah were old, well advanced in age, and Sarah was past the way of women. And Sarah laughed within herself, saying, “After I have grown old, shall I have pleasure, my master being old too?”

And יהוה said to Aḇraham, “Why did Sarah laugh, saying, ‘Shall I truly have a child, since I am old?’ “Is any matter too hard for יהוה? At the appointed time I am going to return to you, according to the time of life, and Sarah is to have a son.” But Sarah denied it, saying, “I did not laugh,” for she was afraid. And He said, “No, but you did laugh!” (Genesis 18:9-14, ISR).

Is the matter to hard for the One who created the universe? The One who uses the earth for a foot stool? The One who said let their be Light? Whatever circumstance you find yourself going through just know that He is not a God who is far away but a loving Father who is close by, even at the door and He is the One who can open doors no man can shut. Does the situation look impossible? It’s not too hard for our great and mighty King.

May we wait by our tent doors regardless of where that location may be. May we be a servant and run to bake bread and feed the messengers sent from Above. May we laugh with delight and believe that around this time next year, we will give birth to JOY. For that is what Isaac’s name means.

I am in awe of what I am seeing and hearing of late.

Open your eyes.

It’s a new fresh day.

We have the potential to speak life over people and not death and life over our own needs. We have the potential to paint a wonderful picture, to sing a new song. To join in the journey as we wait in our tent to hear the pause and then the door lock to click and the vehicle to move.

Look up.

He sees YOU!

Blessings,

Tekoa